Between 27 and 29 December 2017, 29 patients in critical condition were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta to Damascus as part of a deal made with the Syrian government on 26 December. The list included 18 children and 4 women suffering from heart disease, cancer, kidney failure and blood diseases. Of the initially approved names, nine refused to be transferred to government-controlled Damascus for security reasons, while two died before being evacuated. The deceased victims are six-months-old Katr Alnada and eight-months-old Emad.
More than 600 people, who are in desperate need of medical care, remain under siege in Eastern Ghouta. At least 19 have died according to Mohamad Katoub, advocacy manager at Syrian American Medical Society.
The status of further evacuations is unclear and delivery of humanitarian aid remains minimal. Meanwhile, fighting and airstrikes in besieged Eastern Ghouta continue despite its being designated a de-escalation zone in Syria. According to Dr. Anas Taleb, Misraba hospital manager, “The region is witnessing unprecedented, intense attacks by artillery shelling, aerial bombardment, and locally-made rockets.” On 4 January 2018, at least 30 civilians were reportedly killed in airstrikes and shelling attacks in the enclave. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 96 people, including 40 women and children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since 29 December 2017.
The UN Security Council should demand a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta. The international community must demand that the Syrian government immediately allow deliveries of humanitarian aid into the enclave.